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Federation Equestre Internationale News

The Final Countdown!

The last competition of the FEI World Cup Dressage Western European League takes place this weekend at Indoor Brabant,'s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, and the result of Saturday afternoon's Freestyle to Music will decide which riders have succeeded in winning places at the 2004 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.

It is more important than ever, as now a further three riders from this League will be allowed to take part in Duesseldorf next week (April 1-4). There is also the question of who will top the League yet to be answered.

For Anky van Grunsven Indoor Brabant is the scene of many triumphs and of course of Bonfire's retirement ceremony in 2001 after winning Olympic Individual Gold. The great horse on whom Anky won the FEI World Cup a record five times gave her some worry this week when he was admitted to veterinary hospital with stomach pains, but she is relieved to report that it is nothing serious and that 'Bonni' will be returning home tomorrow, though he and his companion, the pony Jolly Jumper, will miss
their display planned for Sunday evening.

Here Anky rides Salinero, on whom she has already this season won two qualifiers and placed second in the other. On 57 points, equal with Britain's Emma Hindle (who is not competing here), if she wins again, she could win the League. At any rate after losing much of last year due to injury she is delighted to be back. She said: " Indoor Brabant is 'my show' as it is so close to home, and I am very happy to be competing here again. For me, as my first 'big thing' after a long time, I am very excited about the Final. It is very exciting this season with so many good horses and riders - not only from Europe."

The US challengers are in training with USET team coach Klaus Blakenhol in preparation for Duesseldorf. Titleholder Debbie McDonald led the contingent in a warm up, winning the Special tour in fine style with Brentina at CDI Dortmund. As with German standings leader Heike Kemmer and Hubertus Schmidt in second, they are sitting this one out.Isabell Werth, in third place in the standings, is riding to make sure of her Final place above compatriot Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff in seventh as only three riders per nation may take part.

The extra allowance for the Western European League - in recognition of the high quality this season - also should give Scandinavia a stronger showing at the Final, depending on the results here. Former titleholder Louise Nathhorst is in ninth spot and standing tenth, if all goes well for Danish dental student Nicole Ahlefeldt Laurvig-Lehn in this final qualifier, she should be riding her Trakehner gelding Esprit in her first final, in her first World Cup season, just a few days before her 25th birthday.


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